Thursday, May 6, 2021
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Government Takeover Of Fish And Game Will Be Hotly Challenged By 100,000 License Holders


The NZ Outdoors Party is very concerned by the newly
released recommendations of the Fish and Game review two
person panel set up by Eugenie Sage when she was
Conservation Minister.

“They need full, open and
proper debate and should not be undemocratically bull-dozed
through,” says NZ Outdoors Party President Alan Simmons.
“I am alarmed at the cavalier dictatorial approach of the
current Fish and Game chair Rainsford (Ray) Grubb who was
quoted on Radio NZ as saying national fish and game council
would begin voluntarily enacting the recommendations before
the 150,000 plus fish and game public have time to consider
the consequences of the recommendations”.

Fish and
Game is well known to the NZ Outdoors Party President, Alan
Simmons who was one of the 12 foundation Councillors of Fish
and Game setting up the organization on behalf of the
minister in 1989, and went on to become an elected NZ
Councillor for 4 years and then sat the Eastern Region
council for 11 years. 
 

“There has
always been a difficult relationship between Fish and Game
and the government “says Alan Simmons. ” The Department of
Conservation who are legislatively responsible for Fish and
Game concentrate on managing native species and seem to have
lost their resolve to advocate for freshwater. DOC with an
anti-introduced species phobia, consider trout, salmon and
game birds as intruders and conflict will always be a
problem.”

Underlying any Fish and Game internal
administration and management has been the vexed question of
centralisation. Even in the early 1990s, soon after fish and
game councils were introduced it soon became obvious that a
problem would always exist between the NZ Council whose role
was to co ordinate the 12 regional councils and the regional
councils whose role was to manage the resources, he
says.

One of the recommendations is that the NZ
Councillors needed to be elected as independent board
members as it should have been from the beginning but the
legislation made them an appointee of the region resulting
in regional control over the NZ Council.

“But
that’s over to Fish and Game to remedy and does not
justify a state trespassing and takeover as the review seems
to make a push for,” he says.

“The reports proposal
to reduce the regions from 12 to 6 and sharing expertise
between regions is a good one” Alan Simmons said “but the
proposal to reduce the number of elected Councillors from 12
to 4 with another 4 to be appointed by the minister can only
be seen as an audacious and arrogant takeover of this
user-say, user- pay organization by this
government.”

Fish and Game has a long historic
tradition of managing game birds and freshwater fishing
since the introduction of fish and birds to NZ in the 1800’s
via the European settler formed Acclimatisation Societies.
Fish and Game had been at times strong advocates for
environment issues most notably with Water Conservation
order protections for the public’s rivers in the face of
government exploitation.

“Many of the environmental
wins we currently have now were hard fought for by the old
Acclimatisation societies and as an example the current
protection and purity of many river headwaters came about as
a result of river conservation orders hard fought for and
funded by the trout and salmon fishing public over the past
years. “

Most of the wetlands still intact were
either purchased or saved by hunters. Most of these would
not exist today such as the Kaituna wetland purchased by
fund raising sausage sizzles and generous donations by the
Tauranga Acclimatisation Society.

“I was on the
Acclimatization Society council in the 1970’s and recall
vividly the hard fought campaigns to save what are now
treasured places,’ he says..

One of the legislative
roles of Fish and Game has been advocacy around clean water
and this has consumed a lot of anglers funds without any
input from Government who abdicated their role in “clean
water” while allowing Federated farmers to engage in a
concerted war on Fish And Game because they did not like
Fish and Game’s advocacy on dirty dairying. This extensive
prejudiced criticism by Federated Farmers to the review
panel helped convince the minister to holding the review
while Fish and Game were really carrying out its
responsibilities as required of them under the Conservation
act.

He says there are deep concerns around government
appointees.

“Will they be mere puppets for the
government of the day bearing in mind environmental threats
to wetlands and waterways invariably come from government?
Also of concern is the requirement under the conservation
act that Fish and Game Councillors cannot be paid for their
time and work thus begging the question that if government
appointees were assigned to councils would they be paid and
not the other four Councillors? “

Alan Simmons says
if everyone was to be paid then the cost of fishing and
hunting licenses would have to double and become
unaffordable to lower income New Zealanders, thus destroying
the egalitarian tradition of fishing and hunting sports
being available to all.

“Anglers and hunters need to
stand up and decide as to whether they accept the review
report’s recommendations effectively for a government
takeover or fight off yet another government attempt and
there have been many over the
years. 
 

The New Zealand Outdoors Party
will not be a party to the appointment of government stooges
to the Fish and Game councils when the whole organisation is
funded entirely by license holders’ money. It was set up as
a “user pays-user says” organisation and so it should
continue,” he
says.

© Scoop Media

 



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